Using resistance bands for building muscle is a great way to diversify your workout, create muscle confusion and increase strength and mass.
Anyone who’s been seriously into weightlifting for some time understands that doing the same thing over a long period will produce diminishing returns.
So, while resistance bands can never completely replace free weights for building serious muscle, they do offer an excellent way to add variety to your workout and maximise your gains.
In this post I want to tell you about some of the benefits of using exercise bands in your muscle building workout, and show you what the best bands to use for bodybuilding and strength training.
Why are resistance bands good for building muscle?
Training with resistance bands has a different effect on your muscles because of the unique properties of elastics compared to weights.
The main difference is that the resistance of elastics increases as the band is stretched, as opposed to weights where it’s more or less constant. This is beneficial for building strength and muscle mass because it means you’ll encounter the highest level of resistance when the joint is in it’s strongest position.
This is known as variable linear resistance. Studies have shown the adding resistance band exercises to your muscle building workout (either alone or in combo with free weights) will result in greater increases in force and power compared to using weights alone.
Elastic bands can also provide resistance from any angle, making them ideal for targeting small groups of muscles – essential if you’re training for maximum size and definition.
What are the best resistance bands for building muscle?
The best kind of exercise bands to use for muscle building workouts are 208cm resistance loop bands (also known as pull up bands):
These bands are available in 5 strengths (up to XX-heavy) and, being a loop, they are the most effective and versatile for doing high resistance strength exercises.
In the section below I’ve included 12 mass-building exercises you can do with this band which are effective for bodybuilding.
You can also check out our Ultimate Guide to Loop Band Exercises which contains 50 exercises with the resistance loop.
Resistance Tube Bands
You can also use a resistance tube with handles for strength and mass building exercises:
These bands include a door anchor which you can use to secure the band at any height along a door frame, allowing you to perform strength exercises from the anchor point.
See our full guide to resistance tube exercises here.
12 Resistance Band Exercises for Building Muscle
Below are 12 of the best muscle building exercises using a 208cm resistance loop bands. The difficulty of each exercise can be altered by changing the angle of movement or the position of your body.
#1 Bent Over Row
Step on the middle of the band and hold each end of the loop in your hands while bent forward. Keep your lower back slightly arched (use correct form). Pull the band upwards as high as possible, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
#2 Banded Deadlift
Step into either end of the loop and stand with feet wide apart. Bend at the waist and knees and keep your lower back straight. Hold the band at the centre and pull it upwards to perform deadlifts. For this exercise it’s especially important to pay attention to proper form.
#3 Banded Squat
Hold one end of the resistance loop in front of you at shoulder height and step into the other end with your feet shoulder-width apart. Now perform front squats, as always making sure to pay close attention to correct form.
#4 Resisted Lunge
Hold the loops at each end and step on the middle of the band in a forward stance. Now perform resisted lunges while holding firmly onto each end of the loop.
#5 Reverse Flyes
Step on the middle of the band and lean forward to hold either end of the loop. Keeping your back straight and your arms slightly bent, stretch the band by lifting each end up as high as you can.
#6 Resisted Push Ups
Sling the band around your back and hold each end of the loop in your hands while you perform push ups as normal.
#7 Single Arm Row
Step into each end of the loop in a wide forward stance and hold the band in the middle. Lean forward slightly with a straight back and rest your other hand on your knee. Now pull the band up as high as possible.
#8 Tricep Extension
Secure the band at waist height and hold the other end of the loop in front of you while leaning forward with knees bent and back straight. Pull the band backwards without moving your shoulder or upper arm.
#9 Lateral Raise
Step on the loop with one foot and hold the other end at your side. Keeping your arm straight, stretch the band up to your side until your hand is at head height.
#10 Resisted Dip
Hold each end of the band onto the parallel bars and loop it over your shoulders, making the exercise more difficult by pulling your body downwards.
#11 Incline Chest Press
Get into a forward stance with one end of the loop underneath your back foot and holding the other end in front of your chest. Now push the band forward and upwards until your arms are straight.
Sit on an incline bench with the band secured low down in front of you. Hold on to the bench behind your head. With the band looped around your feet, pull your knees back towards your head.
See our full range of resistance bands for muscle building and fitness training here.